Basic UK 133 Folder Collection
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Hello, I’m Oli. Welcome to Oxford Online English! In this lesson, you can learn about
the present simple verb tense in English.
How many ways do you know to use the present simple? The present simple doesn’t just
have one or two uses; there are at least eight common uses, and many more special cases.
In this lesson, you can learn all about the present simple tense. Beginners can learn
simple ways to use this verb form, and more advanced students can learn about more complex
uses of the present simple.
Ready? OK, let’s start! First question: how can you form the present
simple?
To use the present simple, you need to remember three things:
First, add an 's' or 'es' to the verb in the third person singular, for example, after
'he', 'she', or 'it'. Make negatives using 'don't' or 'doesn't';
use 'doesn't' again for the 3rd person - after 'he', 'she' or 'it'.
Make questions with 'do' or 'does.'
For example:
"I visit them once a week." "She visits them once a week." We add an 's' to the verb after
he/she/it. "I have a lot of things to do." "I don't have
a lot of things to do." We make negatives with .don't'.
"I don't have much time." "He doesn't have much time." We make negatives with 'doesn't'
after he/she/it. "You have a big family." "Do you have a big
family?" We make questions with 'do'. "Do you live in this building?" "Does she
live in this building?" For the 3rd person, we make questions with 'does'.
You can see that when we use 'does' or 'doesn't', we don't add 's' to the verb.
OK, that shows you how to form the present simple, but how can you use it?
Let's look at the different ways you can use this verb form.
Part two: talking about a regular action.
This is one of the most common uses of the present simple. Let's just look at some examples:
"She calls her parents every week." "I don't often go to the gym."
Or, "Do you always eat so quickly?"
In all of these sentences, we are talking about actions which happen (or don't happen)
regularly. These actions are not happening at this moment.
This is a simple use of the present simple, which you maybe knew already. But we’ve
only just started. How else can you use the present simple?
Do you know any other ways? Let's look. Part three: talking about general truths.
If you want to talk about something which is generally true, you will also need the
present simple. For example:
"The Moon goes around the Earth." "The Nile is the longest river in the world."
Or, "Elephants live for 60 or 70 years on average."
These things are generally true because they aren’t just true at one moment. They were
true 100 years ago; they’re true today, and they’ll be true 100 years in the future.
Compare this to the previous idea: talking about regular actions. In both cases, we use
the present simple to talk about something which is true not just at this moment, but
also in the future and the past.
This idea is an important part of the meaning of the present simple. We'll see it again.
Part four: talking about states and situations.
'Throwing' is an action. It’s something which can be happening at one moment. A question:
are all verbs actions?
Think about a verb like 'seem'. Is 'seeming' an action? Can you say, "You’re seeming
very quiet today?"
No, and no. Verbs like 'seem' describe states, not actions. We use the present simple to
talk about all states in the present. For example:
"You seem a bit quiet today." "He has a lot of experience in his subject."
Or, "Why does this one cost more than the others?"
Many verbs which describe states, like 'seem' or 'cost' can only be used in simple tenses.
They don’t exist in continuous tenses.
Again, you can see the same idea of something which is true not just now, at this moment,
but also in the future and the past. If you say, "He has a lot of experience in his subject,"
that means that he had a lot of experience last week, and he’ll have a lot of experience
next week, too. It’s not just about this moment.
Part five: using the present simple with verbs of sensing, feeling, thinking or speaking.
With many verbs of sensing (like 'hear', 'see' or 'smell'), feeling (like 'like', 'love'
or 'hate') thinking (like 'know', 'realise' or 'remember') or speaking (like 'promise',
'admit' or 'advise'), we use the present simple.
This is because many of these verbs describe states, and the present simple is used to
talk about states, as you saw just now. Let's look at some more examples:
"This cheese smells a bit strange." "I don't like going shopping."
"Do you realise what you're doing?" "I promise it won't happen again."
In all of these sentences, only the present simple is possible. You can't say, "Are you
realising what you're doing?" Or, "I'm promising it won’t happen again."
Part six: talking about long-lasting situations.
If you say, "She lives with her friend."
Or,
"She’s living with her friend."
Are they the same? If not, what’s the difference?
They’re different. If you say, "She lives with her friend," with the present simple,
this suggests that the situation is permanent, or at least long-lasting. She’s not just
staying with her friend for a few weeks. She lives with her friend, permanently.
If you say, "She’s living with her friend," with the present continuous, this suggests
that the situation is temporary. Maybe she’s just staying with her friend while she looks
for her own place.
When we use the present simple to talk about a situation, it suggests that the situation
has continued for a long time, and/or that we expect this situation to continue for a
long time into the future.
In some cases, it's possible to use either the present simple or the present continuous
in the same sentence, but the meanings would be different. Using the present simple shows
a situation is long-lasting or permanent, while using the present continuous shows that
a situation is just temporary. For example:
"He works for a small design company." This is his career. This is his job. He’ll probably
stay there a long time. "He's working for a small design company."
He works there at the moment. He might change jobs soon.
Another example: "I go to the gym every week." That means I
do this every week, every month, all year. Next month, I’ll still be going to the gym.
"I'm going to the gym every week." That means I’m doing this at the moment. Next month,
you won't see me there!
In all of these sentences, both forms are possible (simple or continuous), but the present
simple shows that these situations are long-lasting, while the present continuous shows that these
situations probably won't continue for a long time.
Okay, part seven - lots of parts! - use the present simple to tell jokes or stories in
conversational English.
Imagine you’re telling a story to your friends. What verb form would you use? You should use
the past, right? After all, you’re talking about a story, something which happened in
the past. Shouldn't you use a past verb form? Hmm...
That’s logical, but it’s not always true. We often use the present simple to tell stories
or jokes, even for things which happened in the past. This is only possible in conversational
English.
Why do we do this? Using the present simple instead of the past makes the story sound
more direct and exciting. For example:
So, I see this guy who looks just like Johnny Depp, and I go up to talk to him, but then
I trip and throw my drink all over him! He gives me this look, like I'm a complete idiot,
and just walks away.
Similarly, the present simple is often used in newspaper headlines, even for things which
happened in the past. For example:
"Prime Minister resigns" "Scientists discover new element"
Next, we also use the present simple in commentary. What’s commentary?
Commentary means describing something as it’s happening, usually on TV or on the radio.
For example, sports matches have commentators, who describe the match to listeners or viewers.
Commentators use the present simple to talk about shorter actions which are happening
at that moment. For example:
"He passes, he shoots… He hits the post!" "She serves, but Williams makes a great return."
"The prince waits at the altar, while the princess walks slowly up the aisle."
This might seem strange. Commentary describes something which is happening now, so you might
think we should use the present continuous. Commentary does use the present continuous,
but mostly for longer actions. For example:
"He’s warming up and getting ready to come on the pitch."
"The players are taking a break while the medic treats her leg."
Normally, we use the present simple for longer actions and the present continuous for shorter
actions. But in commentary, the opposite is true; the present simple describes shorter
actions, the continuous is used for longer actions.
OK, you’re nearly finished. We have one more use of the present simple. What is it?
Let’s look: Part nine: we use the present simple for future
schedules.
So, you can also the present simple to talk about the future. How?
We use the present simple to talk about things in the future which are on a timetable or
schedule. This includes things like trains, planes and other public transport; meetings
and appointments; classes and so on, things like this. For example:
"Class starts at 10.00." "The plane arrives at 12.20 at night."
"What time does the meeting start?"
In all of these sentences, we are talking about the future, but because we are talking
about timetables or schedules, we use the present simple.
OK, let's review.
Wow! Lots of information in this lesson. Don’t worry if you don’t remember it all. You
can always review the video if you need to. It will still be here.
I hope you can see that the present simple is actually a very flexible and powerful verb
form. You can use it to express many, many different ideas. However, if you want to use
the present simple in all these ways, you need to understand the different meanings.
There isn’t one answer to the question “What does the present simple do?” There are many
answers!
That’s the end of the lesson. Thanks very much for watching! I hope you found it useful.
You can see more of our free lessons on our website: www.oxfordonlineenglish.com. But
that's all, thanks very much. See you next time, bye bye!
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English Verb Tenses - How to Use the Present Simple Verb Form in English

133 Folder Collection
pipus published on March 16, 2017
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